Abomination

Ashley Goldberg

Abomination
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Abomination

Ashley Goldberg

‘He who turns his ear away from hearing the Torah - even his prayer is an abomination.’ Proverbs 28:9


Melbourne 1999: Ezra and Yonatan are best friends whose lives are forever changed when their school, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Yahel Academy, is rocked by a scandal and they are thrown onto divergent paths. Twenty years later, the lives of the two men are very different: Ezra identifies as secular and atheist, while Yonatan has been ordained as a rabbi and teaches at the academy. By chance they are reunited, and the events of their past and present collide with devastating consequences.

Abomination lays bare the clash between religious and secular worlds in contemporary Australia and provides a revealing glimpse into a closed community. With great tenderness and insight debut author Ashley Goldberg tells the story of an enduring and evolving friendship as Yonatan and Ezra struggle to come to terms with the choices they have made, search for meaning, and forge their own identities. This is a beautifully observed, moving story from an exciting young writer.

Review

Calling all lovers of Australian fiction, Ashley Goldberg’s Abomination is a story of friendship and belonging, set locally within Melbourne’s Jewish community. Ezra and Yonatan were best friends as boys at the ultra-Orthodox Yahel Academy. When allegations of sexual assault arise against one of their teachers, the boys’ paths diverge. Twenty years later, the same scandal that once pulled them apart, fatefully brings the now glaringly different men back together.

Yonatan has found a steadfast place in the Orthodox Jewish community of Melbourne’s south east. He is a Rabbi and an educator. Ezra’s more secular upbringing has led to a total divergence from the culture. He is a terrible boyfriend and works for the Government.

When the turbulent events of their childhood arise again, however, neither can resist the possibility of obtaining answers to their long-burning questions. Through kindness, a few trips down memory lane, and a lot of self-reflection, their bond is renewed. When other relationships seem to crumble around them, Ezra and Yonatan become each other’s rocks. We see them navigate not only the events from their past, but also Ezra’s battles with his own morality and Yonatan’s increasing struggle to adhere to the commitments of his lifestyle.

Where Ezra was once the shy child in need of direction, it is now the wise Yonatan who seeks guidance from his friend. These touching moments of friendship sit alongside the harrowing battle for justice against the teacher who tore them apart years ago. This novel speaks deeply to the search for identity and is a reminder of the importance of compassion. It is heartbreaking to read at times, and the dynamic between the characters moves you to truly care about their journeys. Goldberg is a wonderfully talented writer with sharp insight into the confronting themes he explores, and I found myself needing to know how this story would come to a close. Make this your next read.


Grace Gooda is from Readings Malvern

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